Half of tested properties contain traces of meth
MORE than half of all Queensland homes tested for methamphetamine residue have come back with positive results, and some of the suburbs are where you would least expect it.
From Chapel Hill and Chermside, to Woolloongabba, East Brisbane, Maroochydore and Upper Mount Gravatt, houses in these suburbs, and many more, tested positive to a presence of residue of methamphetamine when tested by Meth Screen between January 1 2018 and March 31 2019.
Meth Screen tested 179 Queensland homes last year, with 97 of those returning a positive result for methamphetamine residue.
Of the 56 properties tested by Meth Screen in the first quarter of 2019, 28 came back positive, and 27 were above the acceptable level of 0.5ug (micrograms per 10sq cm).
Some of the highest readings of 2018 were up to 1600 times the acceptable level, with sky high readings at Jimboomba (800ug), Chermside (780ug), Southport (300ug), Chapel Hill (310ug) and Redland Bay (102ug), among many others.
Meth Screen managing director Ryan Matthews said no suburb was immune, with some of the most unsuspecting of houses testing as contaminated.
“We’ve seen levels in beautiful homes that you would never suspect,” Mr Matthews said.
“Some people in more affluent suburbs have got more money.
“You can’t rule it out based on demographic — it doesn’t discriminate.”
Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows death rates from methamphetamine quadrupled from 1999 to 2016, from 0.4 per 100,000 to 1.6 deaths respectively.
Last month, News Corp reported a Gold Coast family unknowingly lived in a house with dangerous levels of methamphetamine and not only had to throw out most of their belongings, they experienced health issues as a result of the residue.
While Mr Matthews said it was difficult to know exactly how many Australian houses could have a presence of methamphetamine as there had been no long term testing, by comparing it to data from New Zealand and the United States with the rate of methamphetamine usage in Australia, it could conservatively be estimated that 8-10 per cent of properties in Australia would test positive to a presence of methamphetamine.
However, he stressed this did not mean the property was contaminated.
Mr Matthews urged prospective home buyers to test a house for methamphetamine residue in the same manner one would get a building and pest inspection before purchasing, and for investors between tenants.
Testing starts from $198, but Mr Matthews warned those who choose to forgo screening risked thousands in clean-up bills, let alone the health risks contamination could cause.
“Most of the time there is absolutely no evidence (of methamphetamine contaminants) except for maybe neighbours talking about it,” he said.
“How are you going to know if it’s contaminated if you don’t test it?
“The levels could be really low or they could be staggeringly high, but if you don’t know, as soon as you purchase it and you then find out its contaminated, there could be a $30,000 to $40,000 problem.”
Place Estate Agents director of property management Cathie Crampton believed the production and consumption of ice within rental properties was an increasing issue, and supported the notion of compulsory testing between tenants.
“Absolutely it is a problem, particularly in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia there are massive examples of contamination in properties” Ms Crampton said.
“I think there needs to be legislation … be that like smoke alarms.
“There needs to be testing around the commencement and the renewal of a lease.”
A Queensland Health spokesman said most illicit drug labs were found within rental properties and residual chemical contamination could linger for years in the walls, floor and furnishings.
The spokesman said methamphetamine residue could produce symptoms such as throat irritation, breathing difficulties, headaches, eye and skin irritations, nausea, dizziness and mental health problems, and infants, children, pregnant women, elderly people or those with compromised health may be at a higher risk.
Some of the largest or most surprising readings from 2018:
Beenleigh — 160ug
Bellbird Park — 360ug
Broadbeach Waters — 270ug
Buderim — 21ug
Centenary Heights — 150ug
Chapel Hill — 310ug
Chermside — 780uq
East Brisbane — 5.1ug
Edens Landing — 140ug
Goodna — 320ug
Jimboomba — 800ug
Maroochydore — 15ug
Moranbah — 610ug
Redland Bay — 102ug
Southport — 300ug
Upper Mount Gravatt — 80ug